I am sending you greetings from Glasgow, Scotland. I am editing this blog post seated at the airport, on my way back to Cardiff. I am so excited that I have finally ticked off Scotland on my “Places to visit while in the UK.” It has been an amazing weekend. I have photos and great memories. I see people asking me to share about my trip to Scotland. Worry not, you will get all the details on my blog post next Monday. I travelled alone. I have stories to tell. This time round I was determined not to spend all my cash on taxis. I used local transportation most of the time. However, I succumbed and used Uber, just a few times.
Breaking News! The UK has finally left the European Union (EU). In short, BREXIT happened on 31st January and now we are on POST BREXIT! After 47 years, this relationship has finally come to an end, or rather is it officially coming to an end? I can only imagine how tough this feels for those against and those for BREXIT. UK leaving the EU has seen two Prime Ministers; David Cameron and Theresa May resigning. Any transition is challenging to deal with. Even for students like us who have been in the UK during BREXIT, we’ve had our own anxieties to deal with.
If you remember well, two weeks ago, I wrote about the UK-Africa Investment Summit held in London on 20th January, a key milestone towards the attainment of UK’s objective of becoming the largest investor in Africa. The Summit brought together at least 21 African countries in a bid to deepen bilateral and multilateral relationships between Africa and the UK. Besides that, this meeting aimed at expanding potential investment opportunities in Government, private sector and the non-governmental sector.
As I reflected on the opportunities that BREXIT presents, I couldn’t help but think about the opportunities for the African woman. I see someone asking, why “African woman?” Well, now you know that I am very passionate about women and girls’ rights in Africa. I am truly interested in all or any opportunities that uplift the African woman. Opportunities that amplify the voice of African women.
As African women, we must jealously guard ourselves from mental slavery and support each other regardless of the countries we represent. Sharing is caring. It can change lives and open doors for others. If people understood this simple concept, Africa would truly change. We must make #AfricaOnTheMove #AfricaRising our business. We must scout for opportunities and present ourselves for these opportunities. Africa can develop its local manufacturing industries and Small and Medium Sized enterprises (SMEs) with the right investments and truly empower Africa women because when women are educated and are financially/ economically empowered then, the entire continent benefits. The solutions for Africa’s restoration could be as simple as a) unity among African women b) investing in women and youth c) investing in infrastructure/local manufacturing d) investment in renewable energy, biogas/solar e) investing in agriculture innovation in greenhouse farming/ Aquaponics / Hydroponic farming and f)recycling for development.
I am a firm believer that African women and women in general are the catalyst for change /peace development which means, without African women at the dialogue or decision making table, Africa cannot move forward. We need women in the social/economic context of Africa’s future and development.
It gets said over and over “For too long the black woman has endured systematic racism, abuse, negative stereotypes from the media, and blatant disrespect.” I believe every woman alive now, has a duty to correct this narrative. We are not our ancestors. This is too tired a narrative to throw around in 2020. We must start looking at women as the driving force of social entrepreneurship in Africa. We must be deliberate about setting up investment opportunities that target women, even in areas that seem complicated and male dominated. Think about opportunities in the recycling industry which can impact communities, clean the environment and create generational wealth therefore, lifting many African women out of poverty.
UK Development Secretary Alok Sharma launches Kenya’s first green bond
As African women, we must start celebrating each other’s achievements. We must say NO to the continuous fragmentation of the ‘women species.’ Look at the many WhatsApp groups we find ourselves in. How many groups do you belong to as a woman? Woman over/below 40, married women only, single women, divorced women only, women in complicated relationships, women without children, women raising girls only, women raising boys only, women entrepreneurs, women with weaves, women with natural hair, women lawyers, women journalists, widows, light skinned women only, dark complexion women, women in their 2nd and 3rd marriages, saved women only, feminists, women this and that. Someone somewhere is benefiting out of this fragmentation while we sit here and justify it “You see, we must belong to a group where we understand ourselves based on the issues we are going through as women”. This is the greatest lie I have had to contend with at my age.
Well, just because you are a parent, doesn’t mean you all share the same parenthood experiences and situations. Just because you are light skinned, it doesn’t mean it feels the same for all other light skinned women. Why should anyone, in their right- frame of mind consider lumping light skinned women in one group and claim, we have oppression to deal with. Everyone thinks we are blonde, and our light skin is the only thing we can bring to the table. Wow! Please do not add me to any group that belongs to any women fragmentation. The more we do this, the more we disintegrate women tribe and then it becomes harder to unite women, especially women in Africa.
Africa is not poor. Our lack of unity is our greatest deal breaker. Our lack of respect for each other, lack of respect and dignity for African women/the African girl child is our greatest setback. Bob Marley said ‘Africa unite for the betterment of your people’. This decade is time for Africa to rise especially African women. “Show yourself Africa” I dream of an African movement that will showcase African innovations and excellence, aimed at empowering women and fostering their growth while creating wealth and employment for youth.
Shall we take advantage of BREXIT and dream again? Shall we make women the centre of our conversations? Shall we be deliberate about their inclusion? Shall we?
Let’s meet again, next Monday, Inshallah.
#IAmChevening #MyCheveningJourney #AfricaRising #AfricaOnTheMove